Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pollyanna syndrome

Today has been a bad day.

The reality of raising a son with an intellectual disability seeps in, like floodwaters that rise and eventually flood the basement. For some people, these waters continue to rise, overtaking the house until even the roof disappears into the watery murkiness.

For me, the floodwaters are just beginning to creep through the basement windows.

Part of what I am struggling with today is the "Pollyanna syndrome." You know, the face that I am "required" to put on when I - the father of a son with Down syndrome - encounter the world. It's like I have to show the world that my son is worthwhile, that his existence is meaningful. "Productive." That his is a life of dignity.

The Pollyanna syndrome requires me to point to all of the accomplishments made by children and adults with Down syndrome. "Look, Johnny can bag groceries and say something nice. Timmy can shoot a basket and be part of the team. Jenny can swim across a lake. Look, look! See, they're just like you and me!"

Ian is not just like you and me. His genes are all screwy... it's like in the old film The Love Bug when the bad guys messed with Herbie's engine so they could win the race. Herbie was still technically a car, and a fine one at that, but his insides were out of whack. But we still loved him.

From what I'm reading, so much effort is spent trying to prove that people like my son are the same as everyone else, with just a little something extra. Ian is not the same. He is different. In philosophy we call it the Other.

We just need to learn to love the Other.

Monday, January 28, 2008

30 till 40

Thirty days from today I turn 40.

Although I'm a bit freaked by the prospect of another decade fading into the vapor of history like a donut at breakfast, I am looking forward to my forties. For me, a person's forties are his or her "adult" phase. (gulp) The decade when we do "adult" things like sit around and discuss the Palestinian crisis in Gaza or move to a house farther from the center of town or become the vice-president at our company (we become the CEO in our fifties.) We stop buying tickets to see Coldplay or the Foo Fighters and find ourselves holding hands with our spouses at a James Taylor concert or Chicago reunion tour.

It seems like there should be some sort of rite of passage.

And I'm talking about something beyond the red sports car and fling with the secretary. A way to say goodbye to the decade of starting a family and settling in and just plain "settling."

I'm going to explore what I would like my rite of passage to look like in the coming days. It might get ugly.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

People First animation

I've never been much of a slogan guy. You'll never find me out in the streets with a sign touting three word mantras. (I'm not knocking those who do, mind you. Just not my bag, babe.) But I was playing around with some new templates for Motion 3 (I use Motion 2 at work) I uploaded onto my computer tonight and threw together a quick test to see what it looks like.

People First.


video

Winter walk

Today is one of those rare exquisite winter days when you just have to get outside. We went for a walk this morning on a nearby lake called Lake of the Isles.

Friday, January 25, 2008

My part

I've been thinking about what responsibilities I have within this new community in which I find myself. To be sure, raising my son in the best environment possible and helping him to find his way in the world is my primary responsibility. But I have this nagging feeling that I should be doing something more.

I see my blog as a place where I can contribute just a little. A place to connect and to challenge and grow.

I'm pretty good at research; whenever I have a free moment I dig and dig into information about Down syndrome, about how the world views these challenges - if they see them at all. Because I'm in the field, I search for videos on the topic. I found one that I uploaded today about a mom and her daughter with Down syndrome reaching out to obstetricians to help them "put a face" on the condition.

I'm realizing more and more that if I want Ian to be able to live in the best possible of worlds, that I am going to have to play an active role in helping pave the way for him.

I truly admire the mom in this video.

Psychotic

I've had to go to work early this week to edit and author a complicated, interactive dvd for an insurance company. Each morning, I drive by a lake that is usually dotted with joggers and walkers.

At 5:30am.

When it's -15 below zero. Air temperature, not including wind chill.

Who are you people!?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Grommet

In the surfing world, seasoned surfers call new surfers "grommets." Most often it refers to young surfers just learning how to stand and catch a wave, but sometimes the term is used in a derogatory way.

In the Down syndrome world, I'm a grommet.

This was made evident to me on my lunch break yesterday. I was back at my local bookstore, reading a few chapters from a pretty good new biography on Joseph Stalin. After getting my Green Tea Latte, I was heading out the door when I saw three adults with Down syndrome hanging out in the dvd section of the store. I would say they were in their late 20's or early 30's. One woman and two men.

Feeling a bit like a stalker, I wandered close to them to hear what they were talking about.

Woman: "Dawn of the Dead. Ohhh. Good movie."
Man: "No way. Too freaky. This is a good movie." (points to a dvd which I can't see from my vantage point.)

I pretended to look at some dvds for another few minutes, straining to hear their conversation. It's still so new to me. Ian smiles and coos and yells, but I have no idea what he'll be like when he can actually converse and tell me how he sees life.

But something happened while I was standing there, being rude and eavesdropping on these three adults discussing their taste in films. I got caught up in their conversation and, for a few minutes, completely forgot about the fact that they had Down syndrome. It's kind of like when I stopped noticing Ian sticking his tongue out, which happened about two months ago or so. (I noticed one evening that I don't notice anymore.)

It's hard to put into words here, but as I walked out of the bookstore yesterday afternoon, something small, yet substantial, had changed in the way I see my son. And I also realized that I am still a grommet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tagged: Love/Hate

Nebraska over at Braska Bear is excelling in her computer skills; not only can she read and write, but she's learned how to start a blog and play tag. Astounding! :)

I'm supposed to write about a few things that Ian loves and hates; since his communication skills haven't progressed nearly as much as Nebraska's, I'll have to take a guess at most of these:

Ian loves reading, movies, holding hands, long walks by the lake... kidding.

Ian loves it when I sing to him. He has a big toothless smile and it lights up his entire face. He hates being ignored - already. Even though he's only five-months-old. When we sit down for dinner and put him in his swing, he yells and whines until we give in and one of us holds him on our lap while we eat.

Ian used to hate bath-time; the first few times he screamed and cursed (those were most definitely swear words) and his face got as red as Martha Stewart's during tax audits. I'm not sure that he loves taking baths yet, but he no longer yells and I believe I've seen the occasional smile creep into his eyes. (I will love the day when the warm water doesn't cause him to shoot a stream across the tub.)

Ian hates being naked. I think it freaks him out or something. He wriggles around - wide-eyed - and throws a royal fit. He fights putting on his PJ's like he's taking Omaha Beach, his pudgy little arms flailing at the Onesie like a boxer moving in for the kill.

Right hook, left hook, jab, jab, punch.

KO! Ian - winner! Mommy/Daddy - lying unconscious on the tarp.

While I'm sure that Ian loves his big sister, he watches her with a wary eye. Silvi has the propensity for giving rough loves; I don't know if many of you have ever watched Benny Hill (this is not an endorsement), but he's constantly patting a fragile, elderly bald man on the head. I think of that every time Silvi "pats" Ian on the head.

I'm not going to tag anyone else. If you do write about your son or daughter's loves and hates, drop me a line and I'll pop over.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Big Bird vs. Goliath

I'm revisiting some thoughts from a few years ago because I still haven't found an answer that is satisfying.

I begin with this question: How do I teach my kids about God? I know that Silvi and Ian will emulate me, which is a terrifying prospect. They'll learn about God first through my example. It's true, I love God deeply but the fact is, I often screw things up. And besides, I don't want my kids to love God as I do: I want them to love Him better than I do.

I've been wandering through the kid's sections of bookstores, looking at the religious books. It's a bit frightening, really. Children's Bible stories with pictures of everyone smiling the same sticky-sweet smile. I mean, come on, when David was walking around town with Goliath's head in his hand, I think more of William Wallace than of Big Bird. Of course, I don't believe that my two-year-old daughter will cuddle up with me at night while I flip through a picture book of Braveheart. And so I have a dilemma. Do I buy the Bible picture books with all the happy smiling prophets and lepers and warriors?

I drive my wife crazy with my penchant for focusing on minutia. But I really do think this matters. A lot. It's taken me a couple of decades to get rid of some of the religious baggage that caused me to walk around like Quasimodo. I know that it is impossible to prevent my kids from having a lot of their own misconceptions about God; it's part of living with limited perspectives. But I don't want to make Silvi and Ian's trek with God more tiring than it has to be. And I have to believe that a childhood of looking at pictures of real people of history like Moses and David and Solomon portrayed with pasted on Crest-white smiles has got to have some kind of an impact.

Maybe I'm making too much of this, or maybe it's "a guy thing." I can't really get into a bunch of smiling vegetables acting out the Last Supper. I did find a few books online at Eerdmans publishing that are at least artistically inspiring. Maybe that's the best I can hope for in a children's story book.

What's in a name? - Pt. II

While I do like Ann of the Jungle's idea of renaming Down syndrome something like Lejeune syndrome after the man who discovered the gene that causes the condition, I'm leaning more toward this approach:

Next time I'm at the checkout at the grocery store and the clerk brings up Ian's facial features, I'll quietly let him or her know that - with the use of DNA polymorphisms spanning from the the most centromeric D21S13 locus to the most telomeric COL6A1 gene - we have determined that morphologic nondisjunctions caused an extra chromosome 21 in each of Ian's cells.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Done

It's done.

We met with our bankruptcy lawyer, signed the papers stating that we are retaining his services and gave him a thick stack of bills.

All for the low, introductory price of $1600. I won't bring up any of the obvious Catch-22's, contradictions or paradoxical conundrums that come to mind as we try to pull together that amount.

When I'm old and feeling the need to share the autobiography of my life (RMB14.95 at Barnes and Noble, due out in the Fall of 2033), I'll begin this chapter as such:
"On a cold and dismal January morning, a light dusting of snow flirting with the leafless trees, Tom and Annie turned into the bankruptcy lawyer's parking lot, the stillness disturbed only by the crunching sounds of their Plymouth Neon's recently Fix-a-Flat-inflated tires on the newly salted roads."
It's sure to be a runaway bestseller. To pay for an advance copy, just send your checks to me at...

Zero hour

The Office - Michael Scott "declares" bankruptcy.

Michael Scott: Yes. Money has been a little tight lately. But, at the end of my life, when I'm sitting on my yacht, am I gonna be thinking about how much money I have? No. I'm going to be thinking about how many friends I have, and my children, and my comedy albums. I mean, I have a yacht, so I obviously did pretty well money wise.
Oscar: Michael, are you having money problems?
Michael Scott: Monkey problem? No, I'm not having monkey problems. Why would I have monkey problems?
Oscar: You heard me correctly.
Michael Scott: I hate monkeys. But I don't have money problems, I don't. Alright, you know what? Watch this, if I had money problems, would I do this? [Michael takes out a dollar bill, crumples it up and puts it back in his pocket]
Stanley: You just put it back in your pocket.
Michael Scott: Yeah, but I destroyed it. It's not even useable anymore.

Later, in Michael's office...

Michael Scott: So bankruptcy is kind of like the witness protection program?
Oscar: Not at all. You have to declare bankruptcy.

[Michael walks out of his office and yells to the other workers]

Michael Scott: I... DECLARE... BANKRUPTCY!

Oscar: Michael, just because you say it out loud... it doesn't work that way.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Monday, monday

For all of you who a hanging on to the edge of your seats, waiting to hear the latest news on our bankruptcy, I've switched lawyers and we meet him on Monday. There were a few red flags with the previous lawyer that I won't get into here.

A few more days reprieve.

What's in a name?

If you look at the top, right-hand corner of my header you'll see the words "Trisomy 21." I kind of regret putting that there (and am too unorganized to find the original file to change it right now.)

Why "Trisomy 21?" Why not just "Down syndrome?"

I don't have a problem with other people using the term Trisomy 21, to be clear. I've just been trying to figure out why I put it there.

I remember when I was creating the header that I paused - just for an instant - then typed out the words. I suppose I still don't want my son to have Down syndrome and that if I put it up there, all official-looking, then it's the real deal. Because when you tell me that Ian has Trisomy 21, it's this scientific mystery, something that doctors in white lab coats huddled in sterilized medical facilities are working around the clock to figure out. If you tell me he has Down syndrome, well, you know the stereotypes.

Did you know that the scientific name for the gall wasp is Preseucoila imallshookupis, named after Elvis Presley's song, I'm All Shook Up? It's true. The internet told me so.

When I was a kid I knocked down a wasp nest with a broom handle and was stung a dozen or so times. If the doctor had told me that I had been stung by a Preseucoila imallshookupis, I'm pretty sure my response would have been, "I don't care what you want to call it, doctor, it hurt like hell."

Trisomy 21. Down syndrome. Hurts like hell.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Put on a record

Updated: Having so many videos on my home page seems to slow down the page load time a bit, so I'm going to just post videos over on the My Videos page. And I uploaded a new one of Silvi singing her ABC's. Enjoy.

Remember when you used to spread all your records out on your bedroom floor and just listen to song after song? Ian and I put together a little "mix-tape" of some our favorite hits from the 80's, with a few current singles sprinkled in there. It's about 10 minutes long, so when you get a break from your day and you just want to hang out with a couple of guys and listen to music, check out our video.

(A disclaimer: I am the world's worst DJ. Secondly, my Final Cut Pro program is on the fritz at home, so I fumbled around with iMovie; this is not a polished video.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Give me a hug

It's no secret that men invented sports because they wanted a reason to kill and hug each other at the same time.

I was supposed to meet with a local group of dads with kids with Down syndrome this past Saturday; my wife encouraged me to go. Made me go. With her magical voodoo eyes that make me do a lot of things I don't want to do but are usually good for me.

Yes, I'm blaming you, babe.

I put it off and hemmed and hawed and finally threw on a sweater twenty minutes before the "Guy's Gathering". Didn't shave, though. It wasn't a date, after all. I drove, alone. Found the place, circled it once, looked for parking. Ah ha! No spaces! I could tell Annie I tried but it was packed.

Wait, someone is leaving. Don't leave. Don't leave!

Fine, I'll just pop in and make small talk for 30 minutes. You know, talk about heart surgery and hearing problems and bankruptcy. Small talk.

The place where the "Gathering" is to take place is a dive. Crowded. Not one table is open. I pretend to fumble with my jacket as I look around trying to find... what. How do you identify a group of guys with kids who have Down syndrome? Look for the tired-looking guys? Go from table to table whispering, "Psst...Down syndrome? Down syndrome?"

I stand at the bar and tell the bartender that I'm waiting for someone. I fumble with my coat a little more. "What is wrong with this zipper?" I scan the room, looking for anyone who looks like they are looking for someone.

I'm out of here. I showed up, they didn't. I can tell Annie that I went but that they left me hanging. Yeah, that's what I'll do, I'll play the sympathy card. Of course, I only waited around for about three minutes, but I can leave that part out.

Besides, men were never meant to sit around and talk about their feelings.

That's sexist, you say? You want to take it outside?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Meega?

Meega means, "How much?" in Somali.

I took Silvi out on another one of our cross-cultural outings while Annie and Ian were shopping. Silvi seems to enjoy them as much as I do. I mentioned before that Minneapolis is home to one of the largest concentrations of Somali people anywhere, other than Somalia. I'd taken Silvi to the Al-Karama shopping center before, but she was too young to remember.

The first thing you notice in the shopping center is that you are often the only person of European descent. Even though I lived overseas for so long, it's easy to forget how it feels to stick out in a crowd. Especially in the Wonderbread neighborhood we live in. I've always been interested in how other cultures talk without talking. For instance, in France it is not polite to smile when you first meet someone; if you do, the other person is likely to think of you as a buffoon.
The men in the Somali center are always polite, but don't offer up smiles as readily as the waiters do in Perkins or Denny's resaurants. The women, on the other hand, are quite taken with Silvi. When I lived overseas as a kid, I had golden blond hair, like Silvi does. I remember people always wanting to touch my hair when I was out in public.

No one tried to touch Silvi's hair, but we did buy her a nice scarf. Mahadsanid. (Thank-you)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Why do today what you can do tomorrow?

Ah, yes, the meeting with the bankruptcy lawyer was supposed to be today. Postponed for another week.

Shopping spree? Kidding....

"Teach, your parents well..."

I finally got around to uploading the pictures of Silvi playing a lamb/dog/calf for the Christmas pageant. It was actually a very moving experience for me, seeing her take part of this annual tradition of remembrance and worship.

Silvi didn't know the words to most of the songs; maybe Away In a Manger. But she tried to sing along anyway. For all the theology books I've read, the few years spent at Bible college, the hours of listening to sermons and reading through the Scriptures on my own, nothing can make the reality of those sacred words more evident than when they spring from my daughter's mouth. Some nights as Silvi is lying in her crib, I hear her singing "Jesus loves me, this I know," softly and innocently in the darkness of her room. Then I understand. I understand everything that is important to understand, that Love is real and permanent and tangible and graspable.

And I want to experience that Love all over again. My little girl teaches me to love, and about Love, and keeps drawing me closer to the source of all Love, that little child "away in a manger."

Not quite sure what we're doing here, but I dig the tunes.

Next year, I'm auditioning for the part of the baby Jesus. My feet are killing me!

Stop doing what?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Regrets

It's a couple hours later and I'm having writer's remorse about my previous post. Must... keep... thoughts... away... from... the... computer.

How Fix-a-Flat explains the world of depression

I had a flat tire this morning.

I mended it with a $5 can of Fix-a-Flat. That's one of the reasons why I am bankrupt.

And I blame my depression.

Before I go any further, I'd like to address a few common misconceptions. First, the "d" word - depression. Everyone gets down at some point, except maybe Robert Schuller and Charo. It's a word that's thrown around freely, like doctor's opinions about Ian's test results.

The word "depression" is like the word "love," oft-used and mis-used. I love foreign films differently than I love my wife differently than I love a bag of Bridge Mix differently than I love wandering down new city streets. Same word, different meanings. The same principles apply to the word "depression".

I've pretty much "felt like crying" every day since January 28th, 1985, the day when We Are the World was recorded, although I don't think it's related. Nothing shattering happened when I was seventeen-years-old, but it was then that I started to realize that my sadness didn't ease up like it did for most of my fellow classmates. It just hid out in the shadows, stalking me, always there. And, no, I'm not going to cry, mind you. (Unless you break out singing We Are the World.) It's just that what I experience on a day-to-day basis is similar to the feeling you get while crying. Pressure behind the eyes. Constant exhaustion. Muddled thinking.

I've got that I've Helped Pay for My Therapist's Lexus and Have Popped a Lot of Pills brand of depression going on.

Second, I want to define what I mean when I say "I blame my depression." I don't mean that I can't help myself. Everyone deals with something. My actions are not predetermined by my depression, but they are influenced by it. My depression explains, in part, why I am bankrupt.

What's all this got to do with a can of Fix-a-Flat?

I knew that I had a slow leak in that tire but have been so overwhelmed with Ian's medical issues, the darkness of winter, financial burdens, turning forty and my lingering depression that I kept putting air in the tire every few days instead of taking it in because that would mean having to arrange for a time to get the tire fixed and then I would have to interact with people and when I bought the car it came with these hubcaps that require a special key to get them off and I don't know where to buy the special key because the guy we bought the car from lost it and so I am unable to put the spare tire on the car because I can't get the flat tire off because of the aforementioned stupid hubcaps so I just went down and bought a cheap can of Fix-a-Flat for $5 knowing that the tire repair store will require me to buy a new tire for $80 instead of patching this tire for $20 because it is their policy not to work on tires that have been fixed with Fix-a-Flat for whatever reason, which I kind of knew but didn't really care about because it was easy and did I mention - I fight depression.

Twenty or so years of making decisions like this one and I think that my bankruptcy mystery is solved.

Profoundly

I have this deep burning desire to write profoundly today.

Profoundly.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Aye

All in favor of skipping January, February and March, say "Aye."

All opposed, go away.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Eyes and ears and mouth and nose

Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes
and eyes and ears and mouth and nose,
Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes..........

Ian failed his latest hearing test. Another doctor. More tests.

*sigh*

Annie went to a second gathering of Parents Who Know All the Doctors in the Yellow Pages by Name Because Their Child was Picked to Shoulder Any and All Extra Maladies that Were Left Lying Around While the Rest of the Kids Were Hogging All the Healthy Genes last night before picking me up from the airport. She got a little comfort from the others there who said that it took numerous hearing tests until their child passed.

But his heart is doing great, said the latest cardiologist we visited last week.

Woo hoo...

How-to videos

I'm back from my video shoot in Cedar Rapids.

It was a one-day shoot; a "How-to video" to teach sales people to use a certain new technology that will turn a three-day job into a two-hour job. I drove the four hours down to Iowa with the sales associate who landed this job. He's about a year older than I am - driven, "successful" and instantly likable.

We stayed in a very nice hotel, the kind where they put chocolate on your bed. The clients always pay for my own room on these trips, and I usually stay up way too late watching dumb movies. (This time it was Robin Williams as the president-elect; didn't catch the name.) I spent the majority of yesterday out in the rain and mud, orchestrating the action to get the best shots needed to teach the viewing audience how to use the technology. No time for a lunch break as I had to catch a flight home at six from the Quad Cities, which was another hour-and-a-half drive away.

I was thinking how nice it would be to have a few other "How-to videos" to explain a couple things in life that confound and confuse me:
  • How-to talk to someone for four hours that you barely know as you drive through the Midwest.
  • How-to stay away from hotel vending machines when you have a pocket full of change.
  • How-to make small talk with the various corporate executives as you light them for their interviews. (Are those your kids in the pictures on your desk? Not your wife? Sorry about the divorce... oh, divorce(s). Um... so, how long have you worked here?)
  • How-to decide between McDonald's, Wendy's or Taco Bell on a road trip.
  • How-to decide between Tums, Rolaids or Alka-Seltzer at the convenience store counter.
  • How-to look like an upstanding citizen when you're a video producer and you wear your hair long because you think it's artsy and you have to shoot a video in a small Midwest town where everyone wears their hair neat and short and you have to go through the security checkpoint at the airport.
  • How-to choose a magazine that can be read cover-to-cover during the one-hour flight back home - People, US, Time, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly... or, How-to waste $4.95 and sixty minutes on the same stories only with a different cover.
  • How-to pass the 25-minutes from the time you land until the time you are allowed to remove your seat belts, move about the cabin and collect your things.

"You like me, you really like me"

Terri seems to think I'm funny. Even after this joke, which NOBODY got; not my wife, not my parents, not anyone. (It's not funny if you have to explain it, BUT... I thought it would be funny if a guy with the most common of names moved to a place with the world's longest name and got a part-time job addressing envelopes at a company with a really long name. He gets writer's cramp, see, and he.... Ha? Bueller... *crickets* .)

Thanks, Terri; I greatly appreciate it. And my wife also thinks I'm funny, but I do believe the way she uses the word is open to interpretation. Ha?

P.S. Run Lola Run rocks.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Kids and I

This morning Annie went out with a group of moms from the local Down syndrome chapter; there were eleven of them and, after the initial awkward "Hi, I'm Annie and I'm the new person" introductions, she had some good talks with the women. They meet once a month.

I took Silvi and Ian downtown to race around the skyways. For those unfamiliar with Minneapolis, the entire downtown area is connected via a maze of bridges that run from building to building, a system of skyways that are over five-miles long. Plenty of room for a toddler to run on a cold January morning. The weekends are best, especially Saturdays, because the crowds are significantly smaller without the downtown workforce milling around.

I chased Silvi with Ian in his stroller, who was trying to catch a few winks between screeches of joy from his big sister. We wandered through the heart of the skyway system - the IDS center court - and stopped for a latte, hot chocolate and pastries.

As Silvi sat in her comfy chair, guzzling her drink and inhaling her muffin, she looked so, well, grown up. She'll be doing this on her own in no time. I just love the fact that she enjoys our little outings together so much.

I can't say for sure, but I think she'll like exploring new places as much as her dad does.

Friday, January 04, 2008

What's worse than bankruptcy?

I think it may have been Jim Smith's decision to retire in this town and get a part-time job addressing envelopes at this business. (Sorry, I inherited my dad's sense of humor. Thanks, dad.)

I'm out on a video shoot until Tuesday; exciting trip to the middle east. (It all depends on your point-of-reference.) See you next week.

Meet your bankruptcy lawyer

Things you need to take to your first meeting with your bankruptcy lawyer:
  • Your family budget. (I've heard of those. Always thought they were made up, like the Easter Bunny and Santa Clause.)
  • Your last year's tax returns, including all W-2 forms.
  • Paycheck stubs for the last two months.
  • List of all your creditor's names, addresses, amounts, etc. (The lawyer is going to think I'm giving him a copy of War and Peace.)
Things you can leave at home:
  • Self-respect
  • Manhood
  • Smile
  • Checkbook (No one's going to want a check from me for a while.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Fast forward button

Some days I wish I had a remote control that would allow me to fast-forward into the future so that I could skip certain events that are looming in the near future. But, just as the remote at home does not "Mute" me, no matter how hard Annie playfully pushes the button, I don't foresee such a remote making it to the electronic section of Target any day soon.

My readers are probably wishing they had such a remote about now as well. Maybe you could skip ahead and return around April when the snow melts, our bankruptcy is a little red mark on our credit report, and I have discovered a way to perfect myself.

I know that I have this knack for seeing the one crooked picture frame on a museum wall full of masterpieces; that's why I'm a decent video editor. It's all about fixing one video frame at a time. But it can be a bit exhausting hanging around me, especially if you're a "glass is half full, and it's bubbly champagne" type of person.

Anyway, all that to say that I'm struggling to see the sunny side of life these days. "No, not you, Tom!" Yes, I know, hard to believe. I'm starting to have a bit of insomnia again, like I did when I hit the floor in Seattle five years ago. Good thing we have a cap on our current credit cards, I suppose.

I'm writing a lot of this down just for me, so that one day I have a record of it. I wish I could be one of the happy bloggers, the ones that are just glad to have a child, Down syndrome and all, the ones who have "gifts" and "little angels" and where God always seems to be doing good things, like arranging for a parking space close to the grocery store entrance. Oops, that's the book The Secret. And I think Joel Osteen. Sorry. Don't mean to step on any one's toes. See what I mean? Come back in April; I'll upload lots of pictures of blooming flowers, I promise.

Back to this insomnia. It's hit three times in the last two weeks, including last night. Waking up around 2am, watching the Spanish channel or an infomercial on How to clean out your colon and lose weight. (Really.) Then I finally fight back to sleep, only to have those typical stress-induced dreams about drowning, trashing an executive's office or being unable to find an open toilet in a public place to clean the shite (if you're concerned, it's OK to use crude language if you say it with a British accent or in another language; it says so in the Bible, somewhere in the back, I think.) out of your soiled drawers so you're forced to wear a diaper. You know, average dreams. C'mon, you have them; 'fess up.

Yup, could really use that remote control about now.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Easing into the new year

I've been easing into this new year, kind of how you ease into a chair when you throw your back out.

I didn't hear one firecracker pop on New Year's Eve; in fact, I think I was in bed before the ball dropped most anywhere, except maybe Australia or Fiji. No champagne, no confetti, no midnight kiss, although I did give Annie a quick peck before pulling the covers over my head.

We took Ian for his RSV shot on New Year's Eve Day Morning (however you say it); turned out he needed four inoculations. He screamed and I winced and Anne teared up and Silvi asked, "Is it funny?" with a worried look on her face. He meets his new cardiologist tomorrow, then takes a hearing test next week. Happy New Year, son.

My mom's been experiencing retinal bleeding, making her virtually blind in one eye. She had emergency laser eye surgery this morning, which went as well as it could. Happy New Year, mom.

We have an appointment scheduled with the bankruptcy lawyer for next Friday. Happy New Year, Annie.

My head is full, my eyes watery, my nose running the Boston Marathon. I'm back at work and I already broke one of my resolutions at lunch today when I got a root beer float with my Wendy's #7 Combo Meal. Not to mention I have to go through all my papers to prepare for the meeting with the lawyer next week. Happy New Year, Tom.

And Silvi? She's happy and dancing and making me laugh when I don't want to laugh.

You know what? It may not be a happy new year, but I am content nonetheless... I like my life. I just wish I could spend more of it under the blankets.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

More books

One of my unwritten resolutions for 2008 is to read more books. I uploaded a bunch of the book titles from my personal library to LibraryThing. Stop by and check out my list; maybe you can suggest some good books that aren't on there. (I also added a link to these books over in the right-hand column.)